Aptly named, “SICK!” sees a return to form for the Odd Future alumni following his lukewarm EP “A FEET OF CLAY”.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Lyrical Dexterity 4/5
⏱⏱⏱ – Longevity 3/5
🎧🎧🎧 – Production 3.5/5
🔥🔥🔥 – 3.5/5 overall
Keeping true to his status quo, this marks his third consecutive jam-packed “30 minutes and under” LP. However, this is Earl’s first album where he has no production credits at all, signalling a change of creative direction. The producers range from the well-known legends such as The Alchemist, to emerging talent in Black Noi$e.
If you’ve been following his career for the last decade, you’d notice that Earl has transitioned from a direct and aggressive rapper (displayed on his sophomore ‘I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside’) to a much more mellow and brief kind (‘Some Rap Songs’ and ‘FEET OF CLAY’), whilst keeping his content personal and dark. Some are fans of the former, some the latter. “SICK!” strikes a balance between the two styles and incorporates the best of both worlds.
He sets the stage for the theme of the album, which – if you haven’t guessed it – is centred around the coronavirus pandemic and the consequences it has had on the population
The album kicks off with ‘Old Friend’, with an instrumental akin to something from a film-noir. He sets the stage for the theme of the album, which – if you haven’t guessed it – is centred around the coronavirus pandemic and the consequences it has had on the population: “The cost of living high, don’t cross the picket line and get the virus”. As we’ve all have done with the extra time on our hands, we tend to reflect on our lives thus far. ‘2010’ is a self-reflection on Earl’s come up from his debut EP as well as some the mistakes he’s made and seems to regret: “And I didn’t look back when I broke soil ‘Cause every time I did it would hurt more”
The title track showcases a slurred delivery as well as being sonically reminiscent of the styles displayed on his previous album. It’s on this track you feel the intense weight of frustration Sweatshirt has towards the long periods of isolation – which is saying something given this is someone who made an album about not going outdoors.
To no surprise, the features on this album are minimal and are unsurprising guests given Earl’s affinity for the underground scene in recent years. Whilst ZeelooperZ delivers a decent verse on ‘Vision’, Armand Hammer steal the show on ‘Tabula Rasa’ with their punchy, lyrically dense and direct deliveries. Earl bookending the latter track also adds a welcomed change of pace for the album.
Earl ventures into new territory with a couple trap-influenced songs in the second leg of the album in ‘Lobby’ interlude and ‘Titanic’. He foresees this reaction with a funny opener on the former: “You know what it is, don’t overreact”, whilst on the latter we have Na-Kel providing some great adlibs.
Overall, whilst it still seems that tragedy is a still constant in Earl’s life (see ‘God Laughs’), he appears to be much more optimistic and in control of how he deals with these events as they come (as reflected on the chilled and soulful closing track: “It’s no rewinding, for the umpteenth time, it’s only forward”) It will be interesting to see if he continues this transition to more positively-themed albums. And if so, what is that going to sound like? And how will us Earl fans react to such, given we’ve become accustomed to the opposite for the last 12 years?